[image_lightbox url=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/pic-for-article2.jpg” title=”Gregory Pondexter” align=”left”]Gregory Pondexter[/image_lightbox]I now see education in Detroit from a different perspective.  I recently moved back to the Detroit area to practice dentistry, which is what  I dreamed to do since I was 15 years old.

My career essentially started before I graduated from Crockett Technical High School in 1996. For four years, I trained to be a dental assistant. Studying the allied health sciences helped steer my career. But the biggest factor leading to my success was a teacher who joined other mentors in believing in me. What I learned at Crockett helped me through challenging classes at both Clark Atlanta University and Meharry Medical College.

Alumni need to understand that the kids of Detroit need our help. Students just need direction. Alumni can play a role by helping with after school programs, starting youth clubs at your alma mater. I’m still in contact with an alum who ran a youth club at my school growing up, which really helped me stay focused

Now, I assist with a group called Young Men of Excellence, which is now active at Central High School and is starting up at East English Village. It is all run by DPS Alumni. We teach young boys how to become young men. They learn how to carry themselves, how to excel in the classroom, how to fill out a college application and other skills. They turn their grades around and now at least one is on his way to medical school. Successful programs can build successful students. Male mentorship helps boys in DPS and we need more of it.

More young professionals need to be involved for the current students to see that there is hope. I’m just like them. I grew up in the same type of neighborhood and the same type of home. Because I made it, they can too. Mentorship helped me persevere.

When thinking about supporting the schools, through the Foundation or otherwise, think of the student in the school right now with a D average. Even if the teachers have given up, he can be a doctor someday.

I know because I was that student in 9th grade. Through the right mentorship, I became a dentist. We should not give up on any child in school. Ever.